The Austin Parks and Recreation Department received an application (PDF) for renaming Barton Springs Bathhouse to Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse. In accordance with Austin Code of Ordinances sec. 14-1-39, the Department informed the community about the application and provided an opportunity to provide feedback, nominations, or endorsements. On April 4, 2024, City Council approved Resolution no. 20240404-035 renaming the Barton Springs Bathhouse to the Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool. This webpage provides background information on the bathhouse, Joan Means Khabele, the process for renaming a park facility, and information on feedback opportunities to share input. District 8


  • Austin City Council approved Resolution No. 20240404-035, which renamed the Barton Springs Bathhouse to the Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool.

Image of Barton Springs Bathhouse

Renaming a Park Facility

Austin City Code Section 14-1-39 identifies the process by which a park facility can be named or renamed. Scott Cobb submitted a nomination for renaming the Bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool, commonly called the Barton Springs Bathhouse, to the Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool based upon the contributions Joan Means Khabele made to the community and Barton Springs Pool.

As a result of this nomination the following process is taking place:

  1. After receiving a nomination for renaming a park facility [including parks and significant buildings], the director shall notify the council, city manager, Parks and Recreation Board (PARB), and City of Austin public information staff.
  2. This notice begins the 90-day period where PARD will receive comments regarding the nomination and can also receive additional nominations or endorsements. 
    • PARD considers the 90-day period for this process to begin on October 20, 2023 when notice was sent to the public. The 90-day period ended after January 18, 2024.
  3. In order to promote community engagement and input from community members, immediately on receipt of notice from the director, the Department shall take reasonable steps to inform persons who are likely to have an interest in the naming of the facility.
  4. As soon as practicable after the deadline for receiving nominations and endorsements, the director shall submit completed nominations and endorsements to the chair of the Parks and Recreation Board (PARB). 
    The director submitted a memorandum to the chair of PARB on February 15, 2024. View memorandum (PDF, 13 MB)
  5. On receipt of the nominations and endorsements, PARB shall schedule and conduct a public hearing on renaming the facility.
    The item is schedule for the Parks and Recreation Board meeting on February 26, 2024.
  6. The Parks and Recreation Board shall make a written recommendation to the Council not later than the 45th day after the date the chair receives the nominations and endorsements, and shall provide a copy of the recommendation to the city manager.
    The 45th day is March 31, 2024.
  7. The city manager shall provide each council member a copy of PARB's recommendation and the nominations and endorsements received by the director. The city manager shall place an item on the council's agenda as soon as practicable after PARB makes its recommendation.


The Bathhouse

The Barton Springs Bathhouse was built in 1947 to replace an earlier wooden structure at the same location. Its design is credited to Dan Driscoll, but Delmar Groos was also one of the architects on the project. It is a one-story masonry building with design influences of the Streamline Moderne style, which explains its abstract “ocean liner” appearance. It is listed in the Barton Springs National Register Archaeological and Historical District of 1985 and became a State Antiquities Landmark in 1994.

The Bathhouse is also home to the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center that has hosted the Splash! into the Edwards Aquifer Exhibit since 1998, with the mission of fostering stewardship of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer through education.

The Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center is now closed in preparation for beginning construction on the Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation project.

Joan Means Khabele

Austin High School yearbook photo of Joan Means Khabele

Joan Means Khabele was born in Austin, Texas during a time when many African American Austinites forced to live in segregated East Austin created a vibrant, dynamic, and close-knit community. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the Brown v. Board of Education decision that separating children in public schools based on their race was unconstitutional, and in 1956, Joan was one of the first Black students to enroll at all-white Austin High. When Joan and other Black students were not allowed to swim at Barton Springs during the Austin High annual senior picnic, she protested by jumping in the pool despite the rules barring Black people to swim. She along with other activists bravely defied the segregationist policies of the time during these “swim ins,” which eventually led to the integration of Barton Springs pool. Joan went on to earn degrees from the University of Chicago and UCLA, worked in the Peace Corps, and taught in several African countries. After eventually moving back to Austin, she went on to have three children and eight grandchildren. She passed away in 2021. More information is available in the submitted application for renaming the Bathhouse.

Community Engagement

During this process, community members have provided feedback and comments on the proposal along with other nominations and endorsements. The official 90-day period for comments ended on January 18, 2024. Community members can share additional comments before the Parks and Recreation Board when the Director makes a presentation, scheduled for February 19, 2024.

Parks and Recreation Board

Hearing is schedules for Parks and Recreation Board Meeting on February 26, 2024.

City Council

Austin City Council approved Resolution No. 20240404-035, which renamed the Barton Springs Bathhouse to the Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool. The final resolution will be posted when it is available.

Contact Information

For additional information, please contact the Parks and Recreation Communications and Engagement Unit by email.